22 May 2011

Where I want to go

I've been reflecting on where I want to take my library career in the future and at the same time looking at what I've done in the past.  So these are my musings/thoughts/ramblings/something about where I've been and where I'd like to go (or at least where I'm thinking of going.)

My career in libraries began back in undergraduate at Dacus Library, Winthrop University.  I was a student assistant with something like 6 hours a week (half of which in the beginning I spent cleaning out toner bottles) my freshman year and by the time I graduated 4ish years later I was the weekend supervisor working 20 hours a week.  I should have known then that the library world wouldn't let me go, but I was foolish and looked elsewhere for a MA in Art History.  Even while working on that one of the Art History professor's suggested I get the MLIS...but did I listen?  Nope...at least not at the time.  After I abandoned the MA in Art History I decided to get a job a job back in the library world, this time as a staff person.

So I headed to Johns Hopkins University as the Weekend/Evening Support Services person...which basically meant if it was related to the stacks, building, copiers, or problem patrons I got to deal with it.  And I loved the variety of the job!  I got to do so many different things from dealing with building issues, to training students, to dealing with malfunctioning copiers and everything in between.  I was never bored...but I hated the fact that I couldn't actually make any changes.  I didn't have that piece of paper that said MLIS on it.  So...after almost 2 years at Hopkins I headed to University of South Carolina to get my MLIS through their distance education program. 

I worked on my MLIS at USC and worked a couple of PT jobs, including one as a reference assistant at USC Upstate.  And here one of the reference librarians suggested that I focus on technology, since it was something that I seemed to enjoy so much and I was always trying out new things online.  Did I listen?  Nope...not really (notice a reoccurring pattern here?)  I finished my MLIS in a year so I could have the shiny piece of paper and I didn't really consider what it was that I wanted to do other than be a librarian and the only thing I was sure of is that I didn't want to work in cataloging.  With that grand plan in mind I secured a job working at Tarver Library, Mercer University.

I've blogged before about my job at Tarver.  I've been Circulation/Interlibrary Loan Librarian, Learning Commons/Emerging Technologies/Interlibrary Loan Librarian, and my current job title Emerging Technologies & Services/Interlibrary Loan Librarian.  And I like this last iteration of my job title the most.  I have the most chance to play and try new things...most of the time at least.  And of course there are projects that I have to get done and sometimes they end up taking more time and energy than I would like, but that's part of work right? 

But...over the last few years I'm starting to think the librarian at USC Upstate had the right idea.  My passion is technology.  Not just the systems aspect of it (which I've gotten to do a bit of) and coding, but how patrons use it.  How do they use the computers we have, where do they sit to use their laptops, what can we do to improve all of this?  And this is where I want to take my career.  I love some of the flexibility that I have at my current job, but I don't get to play with technology every day (and yes my job title is Emerging Technologies)...I want to take my career more towards the systems side of things or a job where I can have more of an impact with how patrons use the technology we have (and I have some of this at my current position, just not as much as I'd like.)

And even though occasionally a job pops up that I never considered before, like working at the Smithsonian or something that has nothing to do with technology, my passion really is that.  I've been spending more time trying to improve my technology skills by:
  • doing some basic HTML/CSS coding just to keep my skills up
  • Improving my PHP/MySQL 
  • Improving my Javascript/jQuery 
  • Picking up new languages, like python and django
  • Figuring out how to install and use so many of the different free programs out there
  • Thinking of new ideas...
  • I'm thinking about getting a master's in computer science (or IT)...once I find fuding
 and I'm keeping my eyes open for other opportunities.  And that's where I am at the moment.

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